It had been a long time since I played Diablo 2 so I fired it up and rolled three characters. I'll freely admit the D3 real money AH news has got me thinking about strategies.
There have been quite a few changes since I last played in 1.11. We're up to 1.13 now and some new end game content has been added that sounds very interesting.
Having played hardcore D2 for quite a long time last time I played I had forgotten how tough softcore is in this game. I died a few times on my barb. My stuff was on the ground (please don't fall over BNet), as was almost all my gold, I was naked and couldn't afford the price of a merc ress.
I've made a Barbarian, at first with polearms then I respecced him to swords. It's nice that you can do that now.
I made a Werewolf Druid.
I made a summoner Necromancer.
I quickly realised that the game is far more comfortable with more advanced gear and that one of the first things I want to do in D3 and want to do on this revisit is magic find. I started remembering how that's done.
With an untwinked character you can hardly do better than a summoner nec. They can play pretty effectively regardless of gear which means I can concentrate on magic find and gold find gear. They can spend fights kicking pots and opening chests and gathering up loot. And they're very powerful.
This has got me thinking for D3 - most of this will probably remain more or less true, a summoner should be able to kill safely while wearing magic find and gold find even untwinked.
Public battlenet games are horrible because of all the level 1 bots that come into your game and spam advertising. I am getting around this in two ways - playing in passworded games or making a game with level restrictions. My first one I was level 12 and set the level restriction to within 11 but that proved too wide, level 1s could still get in. Next game I set it to 10, game was blissfully peaceful and several people wandered in to bump up my monsters and give me better exp.
BNet also proved very easy to access. I thought I was going to have some awful time of proving I was the person who legally owned my copy because the email I used 11 years ago is now defunct but you don't need any email at all, it's just optional and you can give the current one.
I had a look around the wikis etc for the game and was pleased in one case to see that theory I'd researched 10 years ago is still being used. However I don't think this time round I'll be so active in the theorycrafting. I'd rather keep most of my research private. Sometimes it can help to go public to get peer review of stuff you're not sure about but if I discover something awesome I'd rather sit on it.
Diablo 2 in general has held up really well. It looks fine. The animations, the little winces, grimaces and one-liners the characters come up with are superb. I think this is one of Blizzard's key strengths - the characters act in interesting ways. The Barbarian's Leap looks good and has an engaging grunt. Most games that aren't Blizzard games don't quite have such engaging mannerisms.
Another strength is the item system. Very early on I found an rare axe that was ethereal (+50% extra damage, but can't be repaired) and self-repairing. That's a really good item. And it's not unusual to find pretty exciting loot. I'm a big opponent of the Best In Slot philosophy that's arisen in games like WoW and Rift. BiS philosophy is figuring out from a site like EJ or Rawr what gear you should use in each slot for maximum mathematical efficacy, getting it and then.... what? WoW without the gear chase or the leveling is just meh. D2 and D3 are and will be different because there's no upper limit on gear quality. You can always get something better. This is also true of Prime BFD another game in development I'm looking forward to.
D2 gives you very significant quest rewards. After the kill ten rats quests of MMOs it's nice to do a quest that gives you a permanent skill point for killing all the monsters in The Den. In fact the reward's been upgraded since I last played - it additionally grants you a skill and stat respec now.
So yup, playing D2 has reminded me what made Blizzard a great games company and now I'm even more interested in Diablo 3.